17/6/2017 – 21/6/2017
You get the idea that Tenterfield is a friendly town when the guy on the street, fixing the pavers, starts up a conversation and happily chats about the great national parks not far out of town. Everyone we meet from the butcher to the lady on top of Mount Mackenzie speaks so proudly of the town and again we feel extremely welcome.
We just had to start with the Tenterfield Sadlery – of course! It smells of leather and saddle soap with stories, poems and anecdotes pinned on the walls to read at leisure. The fellow in the shop is also happy to tell a few tales and to give us a couple more tourist tips.
In the afternoon we opt for the tourist drive as our caravan neighbours tell us how beautiful the scenery is along the road. It is a lovely drive weaving in and out of farms, over rises, down along side lovely valleys all with extraordinary granite stones and boulders for an added pleasure. Little bald rock gives us a small glimpse of what to expect tomorrow when we head out to Bald Rock NP. The pinnacle of the drive is reaching the top of Mount Mackenzie to see spectacular views across the town and beyond.
View of the Doctors Nose from Mount Mackenzie – a reference to some cattle duffers.
Another treat for us was to go to Stannum House to enjoy dinner for the measly sum of $10. We liked it so much we went back the next night taking our lovely caravan neighbours’ out with us! The bargain basement prices probably don’t do this very prestigious building justice but it was a good meal and gave us a little taste of an era gone by. The owner invites us to come and have a look around the next day, which we do climbing all the way up to the tower. What a treat it would be to stay here in beds you have to clamber up on to and to sleep in a room that Banjo Patterson may have rested his weary head. Apparently Tenterfield was one of the places being considered for the capital of Australia and Stannum House was built with that in mind.
View from the Tower to Mount Mackenzie
When we arrived here we thought 2 nights would be OK we ended up staying 4 nights and could of stayed longer. At the end of the day we have seen and enjoyed so many things but it definitely is the people who make a place memorable…..and the sausages says Shane, definitely the sausages, – best chilli beef sausages he has ever had!
After Carnarvon Gorge we have drifted down through Roma, Surat and St George and Shane has especially enjoyed being close to the Balonne River – allegedly full of fish. The Condamine/Balonne rivers, one and the same really, catchment is one of the largest catchments in the Murray–Darling Basin but that’s not the important thing which is – it is allegedly full of fish! The water is muddy, the colour of iced coffee so I am not so sure I would like to catch anything at all as it probably would take on the flavour but it doesn’t stop us trying because it is allegedly full of fish.
One of the bottle trees that line the streets of Roma
We were hoping to catch the same Murray Cod I caught last time at Surat being a couple of years older it would be big enough to keep. I have to say we tried every angle, bait and spot we could but to no avail. We did enjoy our visit to the bowling club again – only place I know where a beer and a rum costs under $10 a shout so perhaps too well enjoyed.
On to St George, touted as the inland fishing capital of Australia, and we have prime position at the Riverside Camping Ground – powered sites that back onto the river – Shane can just throw a line in, relax and ………. not catch a thing – not true he did catch a tiny little yellow belly which of course with a little exaggeration ends up being just short of legal – tongue firmly in cheek!
So for those who care: the river claiming to be full of fish has been, sadly, left in the same condition – full of fish – there is certainly none on our dinner plate!
The Balonne River, St George
2/6/2017 – 3/6/2017
As the name suggests it certainly is green out here and very similar to Mildura, growing everything from grapes to avocados and everything in between. Shane has visited here before when a client of his experienced some extreme storm damage so its a nice trip down memory lane for him.
The dam out here is pretty impressive in fact damned impressive. Fairbairn Dam holds back the waters of Lake Maraboon and covers a massive 150 square kilometres – its also a nice place for fishing or picnicking. Holding twice as much as the Sydney Harbour and even better plays host to the delicious Red Claw Yabby.
Fairbairn Dam/Lake Maraboon
The botanical gardens is a great place for us to go for a walk and lots to look too.
The last of the suns rays catch the top branches as the lorikeet settles down for the night
Nogoa River – which is living up to its name
We did dropped into the information centre here – the lady was amazing, knew all about the area and had some really helpful advise.
29/5/2017 – 31/5/2017
You definitely know you are in cane country – sugar cane is everywhere. It seems like every piece of farmable land is taken up with cane – even front yards of properties are not the humble old Aussie lawn but more cane. We are driving around the coastal areas near Ingham to have a look at Hinchinbrook Island and come across a 6km long jetty at Lucinda, at the southern end of the island channel. Apparently the worlds largest bulk sugar loading facility.
The southern end of Hinchinbrook Island
6km jetty for loading sugar
Our afternoon ends with a walk around the TYTO Wetlands, named after the endangered Tyto Capensis Owl, which promises at least 20 rare birds as well as plenty of others. I think we are pretty lucky to see 3 of the more rare ones, Black Neck Stork, Comb-crested Jacana and Wandering Whistling Ducks, but there are many other birds to enjoy watching.
The only negative was having to quickly find the aeroguard before being eaten alive by the mossies but then we are in the middle of a swamp.
Ingham is also home to the ‘pub with no beer’, Lee’s Hotel – apparently the americans drank it all. Its a great pub with a good atmosphere, friendly staff and we almost wish we were going to stay for the State of Origin – free beers until the first points scored and free pies all night!
As soon as I realised we were so close to Australia’s longest drop waterfall I knew I couldn’t resist checking it out. Even the 52 Kilometre drive from Ingham is interesting as we wind in and out of sugar cane farms and then through Brahman cattle, who are clearly not worried about traffic at all, making all vehicles go around them with a lazy kind of “I was here first’ look in there eye.
The final 18km is what you would expect going up a into the Seaview Ranges, sharp corners, steep but with fabulous views over the coastline. Happily the road is relatively wide, compared to the Puluma Road.
The lookouts on the way are fantastic and you can see clear across to the beaches, the ocean, Hinchinbrook Island and over Girringun National Park.
I think I may have used up all my descriptive words for waterfalls but this one is sensationally spectacular and I’m so happy we made the effort to see it. Stoney Creek spills dramatically over the escarpment and cascades down almost 270 metres into a pool which is 20 metres deep. It sure has the WOW factor.
There is a very challenging walk to the bottom of the falls, 2km long and dropping almost 270m is not for the faint hearted – according to the sign anyway. (Shane took one look at it and said see you in a couple of hours.)
Shane decides reading a book would be best for him.
I loved this zigzagging trail, rainforest all around, butterflies, glimpses of the falls through the ferns and then a rainbow at the end – aahh.
Due to some dawdling I took about 40 minutes to get to the bottom so it could be done in 30 or less and about an hour to get back up which leaves you plenty of time to appreciate the surroundings – savour the journey. The track does get more treacherous towards the end and getting over to the pool is quite a dangerous undertaking so I decided to just sit and enjoy.
It is also worth driving down to the camping area, would love to actually camp here one day, and enjoy a stroll along the creek, maybe even swim in one of the beautiful pools.
Australia’s Great Natural Wonder
I am so excited to be going out on the reef today, the weather looks lovely, just a bit of a sea breeze which is causing a bit of a swell. The trip out to the reef takes around 2 hours and thankfully the seas calm down on our arrival – naturally due to having the ‘barrier of the reef’!
The water is clear and relatively warm but a little bit choppy from the windy conditions. I think I am swallowing way too much water but after a while I get better at using the snorkel and no longer feel like I’m drowning. It is a magical world under the sea where everything is calm with fish of every colour against a background of coral of every colour.
Soft coral shimmers in the sunlight, swaying gently back and forth with the movement of the sea. I also get to see black and white tipped reef sharks, a Humphead Maori Wrasse, Parrot Fish and so many more unique and crazy looking fish.
I spend about 4 hours swimming around in the water just enjoying the wonderland before me – watching the fish, chasing each other through the coral, looking for food and following the smooth moves of the sharks. Sadly I didn’t find any ‘Nemo’s’ but plenty of other fish in the sea!
A lunch break in the middle gives me time to dry off and replenish before the afternoon session.
The only downside was that on the way back to shore with the heavier, rolling, afternoon swell, a stomach full of salt water and after looking through heaps photos, I do get more than a little ‘captain crook’ – next time I will take the travel calm tablets.
A wonderful day and I am happily exhausted after a truly memorable experience.
Our caravan park is at a place called Mutarnee and is an absolute gem, spotlessly clean, beautiful gardens, palm trees, well kept green lawns to camp on all for the bargain price of $30. It seems strange but we are the only ones staying here in this massive park, its even a little eerie – did something happen here that we don’t know about?
Its time for a day of walking and we are excited to be heading up to the tablelands to the small village of Puluma to walk around the rainforest. The road up is described as unsuitable for caravans and so begins our first adventure – just driving up there. The road is ridiculously narrow in some sections and cars coming towards us are going ridiculously fast – obviously locals who know the road. Shane is in the passenger side and keeps pushing his foot down hard on the floor of the car – so I lean over and ask “so how are those brakes working for you”? Thankful the walks are the perfect way to release the stress and we manage to complete all that we set out to do. Witts Lookout (used in WW2 to keep an eye out for Japanese planes), Cloudy Creek Walk, Rainforest Boardwalk and the H walk.
The colours of the rainforest
Witts Lower Level Lookout
All were relatively easy with only the last 100metres of the Cloudy Creek walk being a little more challenging. The brochures say ‘take a walk in the clouds’ and in the morning that description is perfectly accurate, the warm, misty air seems to cling to us as we make our way along the various paths. In the afternoon the clouds lift so we can glimpse the coast – spectacular.
With fear and loathing Shane heads back to the car but the trip down goes quite smoothly – only had to back up once.
We stop at the Little Crystal Creek waterfalls which is approximately half way and, when we reach the end of the road from hell, we take the short drive into Big Crystal Creek to the Paradise Waterhole.
Little Crystal Creek Bridge built in the 1930’s
Little Crystal Creek Falls
Paradise Waterhole, Big Chrystal Creek
There really is nothing like getting out for a good walk surrounded by beautiful forests and waterfalls – we are tired but rejuvenated at the same time.